The World Health Organization on Thursday said the BA.2 omicron coronavirus subvariant is now the dominant COVID-19 strain worldwide.
According to the WHO, BA.2 accounted for 86% of global COVID-19 cases reported to the organization in the past month. The subvariant was identified and began spreading in late 2021. Health officials say that BA.2 is highly contagious.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a third of new cases in the United States are BA.2.
Cases of the BA.2 subvariant have more than doubled in the U.S. over two weeks, but White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said he doesn’t expect another surge anytime soon.
“The bottom line is we’ll likely see an uptick in cases, as we’ve seen in the European countries, particularly the U.K.,” Fauci told ABC’s “This Week.”
Last week, the WHO listed BA.2 as a variant of concern.
“Based on available data of transmission, severity, reinfection, diagnostics, therapeutics and impacts of vaccines, the group (Technical Advisory Group) reinforced that the BA.2 sublineage should continue to be considered a variant of concern and that it should remain classified as Omicron,” according to the WHO website.
However, some say they believe it’s unlikely BA.2 will trigger a new surge of infection in the U.S. because of the percentage of U.S. citizens who are vaccinated or have natural immunity from prior infections.
“The most likely thing that’s going to happen is that it might extend our tail, meaning it might slow down the decrease in cases. But it’s probably not going to lead to a new wave of cases,” Nathan Grubaugh, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, told NPR.
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